The Midnight Sky

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George Clooney’s relationship with sci-fi fantasies has been spotty at best. A finely condensed Cliff’s Notes abbreviation: Solaris was Steven Soderbergh’s aesthetically bountiful endeavor to distill Tarkovsky for the masses. Theatre ushers loved the film, as low audience turnout left little to clean up between shows. Gravity was an Awards-season favorite, raking up 7 Oscar nominations — including one for Sandra Bullock — but Clooney’s jocular spaceman was shut out. I’m in the minority when it comes to enjoying Tomorowland, a tentpole picture that collapsed at the box office. According to "The Hollywood Reporter," the film lost close to $150 million, making it hard to understand why Clooney would want anything to do with another film that finds him trekking through a CG universe playing opposite a young girl, who in this case is near-mute by intention. (Was it because Bullock took home an Oscar that this time Clooney chose to direct an intergalactic adventure that pits him against an easily upstageable youngster?) 2049 reveals a post-apocalyptic universe, with a bearded Clooney starring as a terminally ill scientist who refuses to join his fellow astronauts in abandoning the base. With the earth’s population wiped out, Clooney tries to contact interplanetary craft to warn them to steer clear of home, and he finds a ship returning home from Jupiter that’s about to be damaged by a meteor shower. A subsequent attempt to do repair work and the rocket ship karaoke that ensues deserve a spot on the cutting room floor. (They could have clipped 30 minutes, and no one would have noticed.) SPOILER ALERT! The entire film hinges on a cheat: with Clooney nowhere in sight, the audience watches as a young mother learns that her daughter Iris (Caoilinn Springall) made it to safety on an earlier flight. This brief moment is intended to establish the young stowaway who Clooney later finds hiding in the kitchen as a corporeal being. Not even M. Night Shyamalan could have sensed a way out of this deceitful ploy. (2020) — Scott Marks

Rated PG-13 | 1 hour, 58 minutes
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